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The Precision Medicine in Aggressive Lymphoma consortium

Standard treatments for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) don’t work for everyone. Prof Johnson is leading a team of researchers from across UK to find better ways to categorise and diagnose DLBCL. This will help ensure everyone with DLBCL gets the right treatment for them.

The challenge

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common blood cancer in adults. However, the standard treatments for DLBCL don’t always provide a cure. Research has suggested that instead of being just one condition, DLBCL is in fact a collection of different diseases. To ensure that people get treatments tailored for them, we need to develop better ways of diagnosing and categorising the different types of DLBCL.

The project

With previous funding from Blood Cancer UK, Prof Peter Johnson and colleagues from across the UK have set up a collaboration called the ‘Precision Medicine in Aggressive Lymphoma’ consortium. Their aim is to improve how we treat DLBCL by finding ways to match the right treatment to individuals with the disease. Part of this work involves new ways to categorise and diagnose DLBCL. Normally, cancer is diagnosed by looking down the microscope at the cancer cells, or by looking for certain molecules that these cells produce. Instead, the team are using new techniques which look both at changes in the DNA of these cells, and at which genes are switched on and off. These genetic techniques reveal new subtypes of the disease which can’t be identified with other methods. Blood Cancer UK is continuing to support this consortium. In this phase of their work, the team are further developing their genetic techniques to diagnose different types of DLBCL. By making this genetic testing more available, and making it quicker to get results, the team hope that more people with DLBCL can benefit from it. The consortium is currently supporting several clinical trials which are testing new treatments for people with different types of DLBCL. In these trials, the participants will have genetic tests to determine which treatment they will receive. Prof Johnson and his colleagues hope to show this genetic testing is possible to carry out in clinical practice.

The future

This project will help researchers to categorise DLBCL into different subtypes and find treatments which are tailored to these different types. Matching treatments to people with DLBCL in this way will help make sure that everyone gets the right treatment for them. The aim is to give everyone with DLBCL the best possible chance of survival.